Your Phone Style: Asset or Liability?
In this day of virtual business transacting, telephone technique is important. Major business deals are initiated, developed, and consummated without the parties ever having met each other except by phone. Ongoing business relationships are sometimes maintained only by phone. Make no mistake -- we assess people's intelligence, manners, sincerity, business acumen, and other attributes through telephone conversations. And this is true especially for professional service providers.
Considering the value of your telephone skills as an asset in your marketing, don't take them for granted -- improve your technique.
1. To convey warmth across a cold telephone line, smile. The first time you do it, you may feel idiotic. So what? You're probably alone anyway. There's a reason successful sales professionals talk about "smilin' and dialin'."
2. Don't multi-task while you are talking on the phone. Even if the person at the other end can't hear you hitting keys or shuffling papers, they can feel your inattention.
3. Unless you are 100% sure you know who just answered the phone, don't immediately say their name. Instead, identify yourself. Most of us have embarrassing stories to tell of enthusiastically saying, "Barbara?"
and, after a poignant pause, hearing a cold, "No, this is Robert's wife Sandra. Who is Barbara?" Gulp. Although this could happen more easily in personal life, just adopt it as a rule, even in business.
4. Do identify yourself immediately; don't make the person answering the phone ask you. "Hello, this is John Blair. I'm returning a call Ms. Lawyerly left for me about the Smith & Wesson case."
5. Don't get bent out of shape when the gatekeeper asks not only who you are but the reason you are calling. That is what he/she is paid to do, in order to screen out time wasters.
6. When your party gets on the phone, don't launch into a lengthy discussion or story without asking them whether they have enough time to hear it or even whether it is a good time for them to talk at all.
7. Don't interrupt. We all have to work on this one, because we are all moving too doggone fast! I do find, however, that I am less likely to commit this discourtesy when I am listening intently and really focused on what the other person is trying to communicate.
If you find yourself interrupting, realize you've probably been thinking about what you want to say next rather than concentrating on the other person's communication.
8. Don't get so involved in your thoughts and expressions that you lose your vocal pitch and enunciation and drop to a mumble. This usually occurs when you are multi-tasking (see point above).
9. Don't use a speaker phone unless a group conversation is needed and/or you need both hands free. If you frequently need your hands free while talking, e.g., to go through voluminous files, you might want to use a headset. And, for heavens sake, never have another person in the room listening to the speaker phone without letting the party on the other end know (rude, rude, rude).
10. When you have to make a call you consider difficult or challenging, get up for it. Literally. Stand while you make the call. Your body gets more oxygen, your voice sounds fuller, and you just feel more powerful.
Many consultants have scads of clients and associates they have never met in person. Because of their ability to convey their knowledge, skills, and "realness" through telephone talk, they are able to establish a profitable relationship and produce momentous results for their clients. Fortunately, until video telephones become a universal reality, they don't have to know we're doing it in sweats in the winter and shorts and T-shirt in the summer!
Rosalie Hamilton is the Expert's Expert on marketing. She is a consultant, coach, outsourced marketing provider and the author of "The Expert Witness Marketing Book". Rosalie is a prolific writer, contributing to expert witness directories, newsletters and newspapers, and professional journals. She is a frequent speaker at conferences for such organizations as the American Society of Appraisers, NACVA, the Forensic Accounting Conference at Florida Atlantic University, SEAK, American Board of Vocational Experts, Appraisal Institute, Acoustical Society of America, Equipment Appraisers Association, NADE, and Forensic Expert Witness Association.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.